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Win the Online Advertising Competition with a Great CTA

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We all know that we advertise to grow our sales, but what makes people click on your ads instead of a competitor’s?

 

The secret to getting clicks and winning the online ad battle is to have a great call-to-action, or CTA.

 

In the old days of direct mail and print advertising, you’d tell potential customers to mail the enclosed card or call us today. But, today, with digital marketing, we ask for a click instead. Get the click and you get a chance to tell your story and engage with your potential customer.

 

Fortunately, creating a good CTA isn’t rocket science. In fact, most good CTAs follow a simple formula:

    1. Reduce risk. Give customers the confidence to buy with satisfaction guarantees, free & simple returns, and free trials. When customers feel that they have nothing to lose by buying from you, they’re more likely to buy.
    2. Tell people what to do next. All good ads ask for the click in some way. Surprising as it may seem, you need to tell customers what to do next. So, tell them to “Click the button” or “learn more” to get customers to do what you want them to do.
    3. Create urgency. Encouraging customers to “act now” is standard for direct response advertising. You want customers to click to your site and take action instead of giving an option to walk away and think about their options.

 

Here are a few examples of CTAs that work:

mortgage_refinance_-_Google_Search.png

This Quicken Loans ad reduces risk by showing their satisfaction rating, tells people to “apply online,” and create’s a little bit of urgency with the use of “today.” If I was going to change this ad, I would try and include a phrase like, “Low rates won’t last forever.” That would increase urgency in this ad.

 

netflix-cta.png

 

Netflix reduces risk with a free trial and the ability to cancel anytime. They tell you to “join” and imply that you’re missing out, creating urgency, with their “see what’s next” statement. They don’t create urgency as directly as other CTAs, but they reduce risk so much, that they don’t need to focus as much on urgency.

 

But, be careful. You don’t want your CTA to be too vague or too strong.

 

I was just looking at another mortgage company's ad, and their CTA was “Enter your zip code.” They didn’t really tell me why or what I would be getting if I clicked. Their CTA is simply too vague. It could be fixed, though: “Enter your zip code for a free, no obligation quote in 60 seconds” tells me what I'm going to get and reduces risk by stressing a no-strings-attached offer.

 

The other common mistake is asking for too much, too soon. Ads that encourage customers to “buy now” are often asking for too much commitment, too quickly. Most customers want to learn a bit more about a company and what they’re buying before clicking the “buy now” button.


At the end of the day, the key to figuring out what CTA is going to work best for you is to test different options and see what works for your customers. Track which ads get the clicks and which ads don’t and then compare the different types of CTAs you used. I think you’ll find that combining urgency with reduced risk and a clear action will win the day.